Sunday, February 03, 2013

On Our Way: We March by Shane W. Evans



It's a morning like most in August, with a strong sun rising on a day fifty years ago, as a mother and father wake their young son. With dawn breaking through the window, they dress and assemble with a few others in front of their church, where a pastor leads them in prayer. From there they board a bus and drive to a place where many buses are emptying of their passengers.



Crowding in front of the Lincoln Memorial, the family hears singers-Mahalia Jackson, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez--and prayers, and then the father lifts his boy to his shoulders to hear a speaker, Dr. King, who says

Shawn Evan's We March (Roaring Brook, 2012) takes young readers along on on the March on Washington in 1963, seeing it through the eyes of a family who witnessed the day that has come to be seen as a landmark in American history. With the sparest of texts and simple, almost monumental illustrations, Evans captures the moment through the eyes of a young boy who knows what he's watching is important.

Evans provides some context to the event in his appended author's note, but this is a book that requires some prior knowledge of the March on Washington to set the stage for a reading. That given, this book is a fine introduction to the events of that day and those that preceded and followed in the history of the civil rights movement. Named a Best Children's Book of 2012 by Kirkus Reviews, We March has been universally praised by other reviewers, cited by Publishers Weekly as "A moving introduction to a historic day."

For Black History Month presentations to young primary grades, couple this one with Christine King Farris' My Brother Martin: A Sister Remembers Growing Up with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and March On!: The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World (see my review here).

For slightly older (second and third graders) add Kadir Nelson's epic I Have a Dream (Book & CD). and Doreen Rappaport's celebrated Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.And for February book reports, there is certainly David A. Adler's evergreen A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Picture Book Biography) or, to take students back to the beginning, his A Picture Book of Rosa Parks (Picture Book Biographies) (Picture Book Biography).

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